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Last updated : Nov 2009
South and South West England
South and South West England - TravelPuppy.com
Covering Bristol, Bath, and the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire, plus the Isles of Scilly.

Southern Tourist Board. South Western Tourist Board (telephone: (01392) 360 050; fax: (01392) 445 112; email: post@swtourism.co.uk)

Central Southern England and the Southwest is home to many of England’s top seaside resort areas, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and along the Dorset coast.

Inland, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire are famed for their by attractive countryside, villages and ancient and historical monuments.

The coastal cities, such as Portsmouth, Bristol and Plymouth, have strong seafaring traditions, while Oxford and Bath are among the popular English cities with visitors (see the Top Seven Destinations section). Off the southwest tip of Cornwall, the sub-tropical Isles of Scilly attract those looking for a quieter holiday.

Bristol

A major historic port, and boasting many visitor attractions. On the harbourside, At-Bristol is a complex with an IMAX cinema, the Explore science centre and Wildwalk, an interpretation of natural history. Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first iron steam liner, is restored and open to the public.

Gloucestershire

Gloucester is a cathedral city on the River Severn where many of the streets and parts of the old city wall date back to the Middle Ages. The revitalised docks are lined with massive warehouses which are gradually becoming tourist attractions.

Cheltenham, is an elegant Regency spa town famous for its National Hunt Racecourse and annual music and literature festival.

Cirencester has many Roman remains and is a good base for exploring the Cotswolds.

Wiltshire

Even in prehistoric times the county of Wiltshire proved attractive to early settlers, at places like Avebury, Old Sarum and Stonehenge – makes it ideal for exploring prehistoric remains.

Salisbury is dominated by its 123m or 404ft cathedral spire, England’s tallest. The grounds of Salisbury Cathedral house many notable houses open to the public. Mompesson House is a perfectly preserved 18th-century home and Malmesbury House was at one time sanctuary for King Charles II, fleeing after the Battle of Worcester in the 17th century.

Hampshire

This region is one of natural beauty and enjoys the benefits of up-to-the-minute shopping, leisure facilities and nightlife. The county is justly famous for the New Forest, 376 sq km or 145 sq miles of open heathland, where deer, ponies and cattle roam freely.

Southampton is one of the fastest expanding cities on the south coast with new marinas, leisure facilities and malls including the Bargate, Ocean Village and Waterfront.

There is a wealth of maritime history in the naval city of Portsmouth – HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose and the Royal Naval Museum. The D-Day Museum at Southsea is worth a visit.

Former English capital Winchester, in central Hampshire, has a beautiful 11th-century Cathedral. Romsey is a market town associated with Broadlands, 18th-century former home of Lord Mountbatten.

Lymington is a small town lying on the edge of the New Forest, with its own pretty harbour.

Isle of Wight

Only 6km or 4 miles off the mainland, the Isle of Wight has beautiful countryside, unspoilt coastline and sandy beaches. It has one of the top sunshine records in the country. Craft centres, parks, historic buildings, sporting and leisure facilities abound.

Cowes, world famous for yachting, also is host to many national and international events, from sailing to boating. There are five vineyards on the Isle of Wight, which also stage the unusual Garlic Festival every summer.

Osborne House, at East Cowes, was Queen Victoria’s favourite residence and is also where she died here in 1901.

Isles of Scilly

Scilly lies 50km or 30 miles off Land’s End – only five (of a total of around 100) islands are inhabited. They are a popular destination, as the climate is warmer and more temperate than on the mainland. The tourism industry received a boost when the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson bought a holiday home there.

Horticulture is the islands’ second-largest industry. Boat trips to visit smaller islands are very popular, particularly from Hugh Town on St Mary’s, largest of the islands, where the Star Castle dominates the skyline.

Dorset

The resort of Bournemouth has good sandy beaches, excellent shopping, first class entertainment and comfortable hotels and flats, making the town a popular holiday venue.

Nearby is Poole which has the world’s second-largest natural harbour, in which is the island nature reserve of Brownsea. Boating trips make the short crossing from Poole Quay.

Portland, joined to Weymouth by Chesil Beach causeway, is famous for its stone, it also has several castles, a lighthouse and sheltered coves.

Somerset

Somerset has three coastal resorts, Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead and Weston-super-Mare. Much of west Somerset is within Exmoor National Park.

The town of Taunton lies to the west of the county, near the southern end of the Quantock Hills. The county’s northern boundary is famed for its limestone Mendip Hills.

At Yeovilton, to the north, is the Fleet Air Arm Museum. Somerset has mystical connections, near the town of Glastonbury, where Glastonbury Tor has long been a site of pilgrimage.

Devon

This area is known as the English Riviera and comprises Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. The major city is Plymouth, a seaport for over 500 years and where Sir Francis Drake finished his game of bowls in 1588 before defeating the Spanish Armada.

Cornwall

England’s southwesternmost county, Cornwall is a Celtic land of rugged coastline, fishing villages and small seaside resorts. In the city of Truro, the county town, the Cathedral and the Royal Cornwall Museum and Gallery are the main attractions.

St Austell is one of Britain’s most ambitious tourist developments, the Eden Project, whose gigantic geodesic domes house flora from all over the world.

Newquay, on the coast north of Truro, is a mecca for surfers, to the east, Bude offers sandy beaches.

Outside Penzance, in the west, is St Michael’s Mount, an island castle which resembles that of France’s Mont St Michel. Land’s End, mainland Britain’s most westerly point, contains a Heritage Centre and other family attractions.